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September Teal: Mayhem in the Marsh

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Story at a Glance

Ealy Teal Tips:
  • Watch the weather forecast for any northern cold front activity – however slight. When the wind turns out of the north, go hunting the next morning.
  • Use plenty of decoys to be noticeable to passing birds.
  • Mallard decoys will work as well or better, since they are larger and more noticeable from a long distance.
  • Blue-wings are susceptible to calling when there’s not too much shooting.
  • Early teal aren’t very wary, and blinds don’t have to be too sophisticated.
  • These ducks have a tender consistency and delicate flavor that many consider the best among all waterfowl.

Blinds

In September, teal aren’t very wary, and blinds don’t have to be too sophisticated. Natural on-site vegetation may offer plenty of concealment – cattails, buck bushes, willows, etc. In September, such vegetation is in full foliage, offering a good screen from incoming birds. If natural cover is sparse around a watering hole, a hunter might stretch a camo net between poles jammed into the mud. In either case, the main concerns here are to wear full camouflage clothing, hunker down, and remain absolutely still when a flight is coming in.

Guns/loads

While teal are fast fliers, they aren’t difficult to bring down. Thus, guns/loads for teal hunting should be selected for ease and quickness in swinging and pointing and also for good pattern density.

This is why a 20-gauge might be the ideal gun for blue-wings, especially over small, confined waters. Major shotshell manufacturers offer non-toxic 20-gauge loads in 3-inch and 2 ¾-inch loads in shot sizes from No. 2- No. 7. Size No. 4 is a good median choice. Best choke for small potholes and ponds would be improved cylinder or modified.

Table quality

A special note should be included about the fine table quality of blue-winged teal. These ducks have a tender consistency and delicate flavor that many consider the best among all waterfowl.

One favorite way to prepare them is to skin freshly bagged birds and grill them on a slow charcoal fire. Before grilling, wash the birds and marinate them at least two hours (cook’s preference on the marinade). Then, wrap them with bacon secured with toothpicks. (Slices of jalapeno, onion or mushrooms may be included, if desired.) Place the teal on the fire, and baste every few minutes with barbecue sauce, garlic butter or Italian dressing. The secret to a delicious result is not to overcook the meat. Breasts should be removed from the fire while the meat is still pink and juicy.

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